Charity begins at home

It's Ramadan. Shouldn't one be thinking of something other than himself, even as he tries to sell his belongings and return to his homeland?

I posted a sign saying my Honda Jazz was for sale on the Spinneys board on a recent Thursday and by Sunday the car was gone.

The car was the biggest of the items I've been trying to unload for the past couple of weeks before my move back to Canada. Perhaps the hardest one for me to let go of, too: it's just such a darn cute little car and it was always the highlight of my day to see my wife or daughter pulling up outside the office to take me home in it.

Great sound system, too. I'm not exactly sure how loud it went, but I'd plop a CD in the player, position it to play River Deep Mountain High and crank that sucker up to 30. Ear-splitting love.

I've had some mixed success with my other goods. Sold my televisions and my CD player and amplifier. Sold my ice cream maker, my blender/food processor. And the microwave.

A woman called from Dubai, and said she wanted my LG washer/dryer. I got her to agree to Dh700. I'd originally sought Dh1,100, which was half of what I'd paid. She's getting a good deal. Her husband came by to pay a deposit. He looked around the house for 20 minutes at some of the other items for sale. When we got to the washer/dryer he took a look at it and said: "Six hundred."

"We made a deal, sir. Your wife and I agreed to 700."

He repeated his offer.

I told him I would rather sell it to someone else if he was going to break a deal. He relented. Then he said: "Give me a present."

After 20 minutes of his going through my house, touching things and demanding their price when I'd already made clear what was and wasn't for sale, I'd had enough of his pressure. "Fine. What?"

The brand-new hand mixer. Oh well.

Last week, the good folks at hauled off my fridge, gas range and elliptical trainer, plus a host of smaller items to distribute to families in need. I rode my 33-year-old 10-speed bicycle over to my old building and gave it to the nightwatchman, Ali.

Once in the giving mood, it felt like I couldn't stop. Like items that accumulate over a lifetime, charity begets charity.

Take my Air Mile points. I collected these things but never redeemed them. They are not transferable to any other country but Qatar and Bahrain. When I spoke to Vincent, a customer-service representative at Air Miles, he suggested I could redeem them - today! - at Damas and get Dh14,000 worth of jewellery.

Sure. And Canada Customs would just love to know where I got it. Besides, I told Vincent, it's Ramadan. Shouldn't I be thinking of someone other than myself?

So I gave 221,000 Air Mile points to Doctors Without Borders (known by its French abbreviation, MSF). I don't know how much these charitable people will actually get, but whatever it is, it will be put to good use.

Published: August 11, 2011 04:00 AM


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